Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Decisions, Decisions


I just got offered a (very popular) series for next year. Well, sort of. I'll just say my presence was requested by the DP and Key Grip depending on some other factors over which none of us have control. It's a pretty cool show. It's very popular. It'll probably run for years. The Key Grip is one of my oldest friends and I've known the DP for years and have immense respect for him.They're the kind of guys you like going to work with every day. And I kind of want to do it. The main problem? It'll take me out of feature work for 6 months. I'm a feature guy. Oh, I've done the odd series season here and there in between and of course started out on TV, but for the most part I've been a feature guy for the twenty odd years I've been doing this. I like features. They're usually high profile and you're in a different place most days (maybe even a different state or country). Series work tends to be a little more of a grind. It's the old "two days in the stage and four days out" routine that tends to get a little monotonous after a couple of months and after a while the days all run together like the lines on a highway after a 12 hour road trip. I did a season (ok half a season) of a show a few years ago (a show that's still on) and we shot in an FBI office set that I could almost literally use the same marks on for every other episode. After a while, there are only so many ways to shoot on the same set, so I was practically laying track before the shot was even blocked. There's also the inevitable call that I always get when I'm already booked on something. "Hey D, we've got a show. A month in New York and two months in Berlin. Your rate is 2 dollars over scale and they're going to toss in a 250.00 a week box rental." (Like I said, these calls always come when I'm booked, so I never actually DO them.)I've said it for years, "Some Dolly Grips go to Italy, I go to Mississippi." On the other hand, a 6 month run of steady employment would be very nice. It would allow me to do some things I've been putting off (you know, bucket list kinds of things) so, depending on rate etc., I am leaning toward it. Also, when you've been on a show for long time, the cast and crew become like a second family. A sense of comeraderie and pride in your show develops that's pretty cool to be a part of that doesn't generally come with feature work. (Or sometimes it goes the other way and after three months you want to flay everyone you see, but this tends to be on particularly grueling shows involving 14 hour days and a lot of night work). I think the definition of growing up is when you start to do things that are better for your family than for yourself, and that's another reason I'm leaning towards it.
Oh well, so I've got some thinking to do and though I haven't been given a formal invitation yet and the rate is still in question, right now it sounds like a pretty good thing (depending on the rate). I would welcome any input you TV guys have out there. Having not done a full season since, oh 1994, I'm a little removed from that long of a stretch. Especially if you've gone from features to TV. How do you like it? Is it challenging? Do you miss feature world?

9 comments:

CBGrip said...

D- Run! You have been away long enough to forget why you don't want to do TV. I am starting a new series and TV is changing for the worse. I can't get into specifics but weigh your decision well so you don't get stuck. Take the day calls (I have some to pass on if you'd like) and wait for the big feature. You are one of the top guy's in Hollywood and You will work. Call me if you need to talk.

CB

D said...

CB- thanks for the kind words and offer of day calls. I may take you up on that.

createbmx said...

Do it. 6 months of steady work will let you save money and then take some time off to spend with your family, or get some alone time in.

The Grip Works said...

Hi D,
I have never done TV. I have done a lot of commercials and have been key grip on well over 50 features. I have of late really been thinking of TV only because it would keep me at home. Next year I have 2 features lined up back to back that would take me to Berlin, Ireland, Greece and Morocco. I am dreading the time away from family and am trying to figure a way to take them with. I already turned down a feature being shot in Philadelphia (as you know D !)
There are 3 big problems with doing TV work in India (where I am based).
1. The pay is crap. The hours are crazy.
2. From all reports, the work is really boring.
3. You get tied down for really long periods of time.
A lot of my work is american films being filmed in Europe, Africa and Asia, so that would dry up as well.

Think carefully, some pros many cons.

CBGrip said...

Perhaps it's time to focus on the best sliders in the world(IMO)!

Anonymous said...

the bird in the hand has always been my mantra in this fickle business.

Nathan said...

I do Locations, not Grip, but when I first got started (sounds like about the same time as you), I turned down a TV show because I was tired after 3 Features with no down time. I didn't work for 9 months. I've never turned down anything willing to pay my rate since then.

Danny said...

i was in the tv world for a long time and have dayplayed on some tv shows lately......i always walk to my car at the end of the day saying to myself, "i would kill myself if i had to do this full time!" I dont miss the 8 point dancefloor masters, full of unmodivated moves just because the director doesnt have time to do proper coverage...i dont miss the "Fraderdays" that kill your whole weekend with your family, and i dont miss going to the same set everyday. Ill take my commercial/feature world anyday. Everyone is different. I hope this helps in some way.

Azurgrip said...

I guess it comes down to what your financial situation is. I hate it when the bank account determines what job you take, but in this time of uncertain future - go with your gut.

I'd love be able to say "I'm a feature guy" but am truly a work whore and have and will do anything to get by.